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First Olynthiac

1.1You would, I expect, men of Athens, accept it as the equivalent of a large amount of money, if it could be made clear to you what will prove our best policy in the matters now under discussion. This then being so, you are bound to give an eager hearing to all who offer advice. For not only if someone comes forward with a well-considered plan, could you hear and accept it, but also I count it part of your good fortune that more than one speaker may be inspired with suitable suggestions on the spur of the moment, so that out of the multitude of proposals the choice of the best should not be difficult.

1.2The present crisis, Athenians, calls on you, almost with an audible voice, to take into your own hands the control of your interests in the North, if you are really anxious to safeguard them. But, I confess, our attitude puzzles me. My own idea would be to vote an expedition at once, to make instant preparation for its dispatch, thus avoiding our previous blunder, and to send ambassadors to state our intentions and watch events. 1.3Our chief ground for alarm is that this man, so unscrupulous, so quick to seize his opportunity, now yielding a point when it suits his purpose, now threatening—and his threats may well carry conviction—now misrepresenting us and our failure to intervene, may divert to his own purpose and wrest from us something of vital importance. 1.4And yet, men of Athens, it is reasonable to suggest that the very thing which makes Philip's position most redoubtable is also most encouraging for you. For the swift and opportune movements of war he has an immense advantage over us in the fact that he is the sole director of his own policy, open or secret, that he unites the functions of a general, a ruler and a treasurer, and that he is always at the head of his army; but when it comes to a composition such as he would gladly make with Olynthus, the tables are turned. 1.5The eyes of the Olynthians are opened to the fact that they are now fighting not for glory, not for a strip of territory, but to avert the overthrow and enslavement of their fatherland. They know how he treated those Amphipolitans who betrayed their city and those Pydnaeans who opened their gates to him. And a despotism, I take it, is as a rule mistrusted by free constitutions, especially when they are near neighbors. 1.6I bid you grasp these facts, men of Athens, and weigh well all the important considerations. Make up your minds; rouse your spirits; put your heart into the war, now or never. Pay your contributions cheerfully; serve in person; leave nothing to chance. You have no longer the shadow of an excuse for shirking your duty. 1.7It was long the common talk that the Olynthians must be made to fight Philip; and now it has come about in the natural course, and that too in a way that suits you admirably. For if they had plunged into war in reliance on your advice, they would perhaps have proved uncertain allies and only half-hearted in their resolve; but now that their hatred of Philip is the outcome of their own grievances, it is natural that their hostility should have a firm base in their apprehensions and their experiences. 1.8Men of Athens, you must not let slip the opportunity that offers, nor make the blunder you have so often made before. When we returned from the Euboean expedition note and Hierax and Stratocles, the envoys of Amphipolis, mounted this platform and bade you sail and take over their city, if we had shown the same earnestness in our own cause as in defence of the safety of Euboea, Amphipolis would have been yours at once and you would have been relieved of all your subsequent difficulties. 1.9Once again, when news came of the siege of Pydna, of Potidaea, of Methone, of Pagasae, note and of the rest of them—not to weary you with a complete catalogue—if we had at that time shown the required zeal in marching to the help of the first that appealed, we should have found Philip today much more humble and accommodating. Unfortunately we always neglect the present chance and imagine that the future will right itself, and so, men of Athens, Philip has us to thank for his prosperity. We have raised him to a greater height than ever king of Macedonia reached before. Today this opportunity comes to us from the Olynthians unsought, a fairer opportunity than we have ever had before.

1.10Men of Athens, let anyone fairly reckon up the blessings we have received of the gods, and though much is amiss, none the less his gratitude will be great—and rightly so: for our many losses in the war note may be justly imputed to our own supineness; that we did not suffer these losses long ago and that this opportunity of alliance affords us some compensation, if we choose to accept it, this I for my part should put down as a signal instance of the favor of the gods. 1.11I suppose it is with national as with private wealth. If a man keeps what he gains, he is duly grateful to fortune; if he loses it by his own imprudence, he loses along with it the sense of gratitude. So in national affairs, those who fail to use their opportunities aright, fail also to acknowledge the good that the gods have given; for every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue. It is therefore our duty, men of Athens, to keep a careful eye on the future, that by restoring our prosperity we may efface the discredit of the past. 1.12But if we leave these men too in the lurch, Athenians, and then Olynthus is crushed by Philip, tell me what is to prevent him from marching henceforward just where he pleases. I wonder if any one of you in this audience watches and notes the steps by which Philip, weak at first, has grown so powerful. First he seized Amphipolis, next Pydna, then Potidaea, after that Methone, lastly he invaded Thessaly. 1.13Then having settled Pherae, Pagasae, Magnesia, and the rest of that country to suit his purposes, off he went to Thrace, and there, after evicting some of the chiefs and installing others, he fell sick. On his recovery, he did not relapse into inactivity, but instantly assailed Olynthus. His campaigns against Illyrians and Paeonians and King Arybbas and any others that might be mentioned, I pass over in silence.

1.14“Well,” some of you may say, “why tell us this now?” Because, men of Athens, I want you to know and realize two things: first, what an expensive game it is to squander your interests one by one; and secondly, the restless activity which is ingrained in Philip's nature, and which makes it impossible for him ever to rest on his laurels. But if Philip adopts the principle that he ought always to be improving his position, and you the principle of never facing your difficulties resolutely, just reflect what is likely to be the end of it all. 1.15Seriously, is anyone here so foolish as not to see that our negligence will transfer the war from Chalcidice to Attica? Yet if that comes to pass, I am afraid, men of Athens, that just as men who borrow money recklessly at high interest enjoy a temporary accommodation only to forfeit their estates in the end, so we may find that we have paid a heavy price for our indolence, and because we consult our own pleasure in everything, may hereafter come to be forced to do many of the dfficult things for which we had no liking, and may finally endanger our possessions here in Attica itself.

1.16Now someone may tell me that to find fault is easy and in any one's power, but that it needs a statesman to expound the policy demanded by our circumstances. But I am not unaware, men of Athens, that if anything goes wrong, you often vent your disappointment, not on the responsible agents, but on those who happen to have addressed you last. I shall not, however, consult my own safety by keeping back what I believe to be for your true interests. 1.17I suggest then that the case calls for two distinct expeditions; one military force must be dispatched to rescue their cities for the Olynthians, and a second force, both naval and military, to ravage Philip's territory. If you neglect either of them, I am afraid your campaign will prove abortive. 1.18For if you send a marauding expedition, he will stand on the defensive until he has made himself master of Olynthus, and then he will easily march to the relief of his own territory; or if you confine yourselves to helping Olynthus, he will know that his base is secure and will give close and undivided attention to his operations, until at last he overcomes the resistance of the besieged. Our expedition, you see, must be on a large scale and twofold.

1.19Such are my views on the expeditionary force. With regard to the supply of money, you have money, men of Athens; you have more than any other nation has for military purposes. But you appropriate it yourselves, to suit your own pleasure. Now if you will spend it on the campaign, you have no need of a further supply; if not, you have—or rather, you have no supply at all. “What!” someone will cry, “do you actually move to use this money for military purposes?” Of course I do not. 1.20Only it is my opinion that we must provide soldiers and that there must be one uniform system of pay in return for service. Your opinion, however, is that you should, without any trouble, just appropriate the money for your festivals. note Then the only alternative is a war-tax, heavy or light, as circumstances demand. Only money we must have, and without money nothing can be done that ought to be done. There are other proposals before you for raising supplies; choose whichever of them you think expedient, and, while there is yet time, grapple with the problem.

1.21It is worth while, however, to observe and consider how Philip stands today. His present prospects are not so bright or satisfactory as they seem and as a superficial observer might pronounce them; nor would he ever have provoked this war had he thought that he would be bound to fight himself. He hoped that on his first entry he would carry all before him, and he finds himself completely mistaken. This unforeseen result confounds and discourages him; and besides there is the question of Thessaly. 1.22The Thessalians were always, of course, born traitors, and Philip finds them today just what everyone has found them in the past. They have formally resolved to demand the restitution of Pagasae and have hindered him from fortifying Magnesia. I have also been informed that they will no longer hand over to him the profits of their harbors and markets, on the ground that this sum ought to be applied to the government of Thessaly and not find its way into Philip's coffers. Now if he is deprived of this source of revenue, he will be hard put to it to pay for the maintenance of his mercenaries. 1.23But surely we must assume that your Paeonian or Illyrian or any other of these tribes would prefer freedom and independence to slavery. They are not accustomed to acknowledge a master, and Philip is by all accounts a particularly harsh one. And indeed that is not surprising. Undeserved success engenders folly in unbalanced minds, and therefore it often proves harder to keep than to win prosperity. 1.24Look then, Athenians, upon his difficulties as your opportunity. Be prompt to take up the challenge. Send embassies when necessary. Take the field in person. Rouse all the other states. Reflect how eagerly Philip would march against you, if he had such a chance as we have, and if the war were on our frontiers. Are you not ashamed if, having the opportunity, you lack the courage to do to him what he would certainly do to you if he could?

1.25One point more, men of Athens. Do not forget that you can today choose whether you must fight there or Philip must fight here. If Olynthus holds out, you will fight there, to the detriment of his territory, while you enjoy in security the land that is your home. But if Philip takes Olynthus, who is to prevent his marching hither? The Thebans? 1.26It may be an unduly harsh thing to say, but they will join heartily in the invasion. The Phocians then? What! the men who cannot protect their own country without your help? Any others? “But, my friend,” cries someone, “he will not wish to attack us.” Nay, it would be a crowning absurdity if, having the power, he should lack the will to carry out the threat which today he utters at the risk of his reputation for sanity. 1.27But indeed I think you want no speech to prove how vast is the difference between a war here and a war yonder. Why, if you were obliged to take the field yourselves for a bare month, drawing from Attica the necessary supplies—I am assuming that there is no enemy in this country—I suppose your farmers would lose more than the sum spent upon the whole of the previous war. note But if war comes within our borders, at what figure must we assess our losses? And you must add the insolence of the enemy and the ignominy of our position, greater than any loss in a wise man's estimation.

1.28It is the duty of all of you to grasp the significance of these facts, and to send out an expedition that shall thrust back the war into Macedonia: it is the duty of the well-to-do, that spending but a fraction of the wealth they so happily possess, they may enjoy the residue in security; of our fighters, that gaining experience of war on Philip's soil, they may prove the formidable guardians of an inviolate fatherland; of the statesmen, that they may give a ready account of their stewardship, for as is the issue of these events, so will be your judgement of their policy. On every ground may that issue be prosperous!

Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [lemma count] [Dem.].
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